Time freedom is often discussed in the sense of personal time, including in the book “Winning the Week.” Like: I have time to do what I want to or need to without the burden of having to work 90-hour weeks.
But, there’s also an application of time freedom when it comes to professional time. Unfortunately, some businesses are still more – or equally – worried about control of time as an indicator of performance. And sometimes, it’s not about control but just inefficient use of time. But, let’s take time freedom to be more successful one step at a time here:
- What is time freedom?
- How to create time freedom for teams
- Using time wisely
- Keep each other accountable for the right things
What is time freedom?
Time freedom typically means we have the time to do what we need or want to do. In a personal sense, that might mean that I can attend my daughters’ softball games – even when they need to be at the park at 4:20 p.m. Or I have enough time to recharge. All those versions of time freedom are essential.
Another version happens in our business life and affects many people – including content strategists and creators. When days are filled to the rim with meeting after meeting, it’s hard to get anything else done. Let’s keep in mind that some roles should have more meetings than others. But content strategists and creators aren’t in the category.
It’s difficult enough to create content that has a chance to perform. It’s even more complicated when we don’t have the time to work on it. Or we have to work on it after-hour because the actual work hours are filled with sitting in meetings. That’s just unnecessary stress, and why can’t there be balance?
Read next: How to achieve work-life balance
How to create time for teams
Like everything, it starts with the realization that time is wasted by certain activities. How do we rectify that? For example, some companies are moving to four-day workweeks while expecting employees to be at 100 percent capacity – as compared to a five-day workweek.
How is that possible? By eliminating things that were sucking up time but didn’t lead to results. Some meetings could have been emails or Slack messages; sometimes, they aren’t needed. And sometimes, the wrong people are pulled into conversations. Other times, workflows might be inefficient, or time is wasted because of outdated technology solutions.
So figuring out the rules of engagements of when to meet, how long to meet, how to create an agenda, and whom to pull in is a step in the right direction. Also, consider the best times for meetings. The middle of the day can be distracting for teams knee-deep in content strategy or creation. First thing in the morning might be best if the meeting is a creative session. The last thing in the day might be okay if it’s a wrap-up.
I once met with a co-worker every Friday afternoon – because that was the only time we could find because of schedules and travel. It was truly the worst time for the call. We had a ton of ideas and things to try. But, it was Friday afternoon. Everyone – including us – was ready for the weekend. Having that meeting on a Friday wasted the momentum. Monday mornings likely would have been better.
Then, it’s essential to have the right team members and understand their strengths and weaknesses. For example, a new content creator – whether early in their career or new to an industry – might need more check-in time with others. While a more experienced content creator likely can work independently for a more extended period of time.
How to use your time wisely
I hate, hate, hate time tracking. Usually, the response from companies that do require time tracking is something like this “We’ve never met anyone who loves time tracking, but it’s necessary.”
Whether it’s necessary or not certainly is debatable, but it doesn’t encourage time freedom. In fact, it can imply, “we don’t trust you and need to see what you doing every moment of the day.” And while it might make client work billing easier, in theory, I go back to this: “Why would I bill you for an hour for the thing that took me 10 years to perfect?”
Nonetheless, there’s value in being aware of your time – which is different from tracking it – and planning how to use it. For example, I make to-do lists of what I’m trying to accomplish on certain days and try to be realistic.
How long does it actually take to create that piece of content? And it’s not just about how many words per minute the content creator can type. But it’s also about whether they are thinking about the best ways to use the content. So don’t just blindly write an article, but consider whether or not it could be turned into a web story, a podcast episode, or maybe even a conference talk.
At the end of the day, companies want results, and the way to get results in content strategy is by working on the content strategy, creation and optimization. Those tasks take time and brainpower, and the more we can create that time freedom for our content teams to reach content goals, the better that is for everyone involved.
Keep each other accountable for the right things
Don’t keep each other accountable for the amount of time we stare at our compute screens. Focus accountability on high-value tasks, outputs, and the end results.
Human resources expert Holly Adams said it’s important to check in on a regular interval and share:
- What has worked?
- Barriers that are hindering the process
Time freedom in business doesn’t mean we aren’t going after our goals. It means we are using the time most efficiently and have a certain level of control over it.